Mi Familia Calaca | My Skeleton Family by Cynthia Weill, illustrated by Jesús Canseco Zárate
Check out this fabulous overview in today’s New York Times highlighting what real American families look like these days: “Families.” Be sure to scroll through all the imbedded slide shows – you know what they say about pictures and words.
Inspired by all different types of family permutations, the timing seems perfect to share this rather nontraditional one in which the lively members are … well … maybe not so alive anymore. But don’t fret! Family ties are forever, right?
“In Mexico the skeleton is a beloved and humorous figure. Its origins go back to pre-Columbian times,” explains author and educator Cynthia Weill whose many books celebrate “folk arts from around the world.” Her last title, Count Me In!, highlighted her artistic Oaxacan connections. Those Oaxacan discoveries continue with her latest collaborator, Jesús Canseco Zárate, who spent a month each in bringing these well-dressed, modly-heeled, always grinning sets of bones to life by hand, creating quite the homage to “Mexico’s long history of paper mache or cartonería.”
Meet Anita, the rosy-cheeked, red-ribboned, Mary-Janed “big sister,” who will be your guide to her extended family … in both English and Spanish, too! We’re all global citizens, after all. Her brother Miguel, she insists, is “a brat,” but baby Juanito is “so cute!” Her parents “are the greatest,” and her grandparents, “the best.” Her great-grandmother – have walker, will travel! – “tells wonderful stories.” The puppy and kitty make the “wonderful family” complete. Quite the family portrait indeed!
For the youngest readers not yet traumatized by too many dystopic zombies, Anita’s “maravillosa familia” introduces just the right holiday sentiments: this is Turkey week when loved ones gather, and the winter cheer is right around the corner. As scattered siblings and multi-generations gather, here’s an entertaining, uniquely illustrated way to teach the kiddies about some of those neverending family connections.